New councils will increase local democracy

Coun. Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council.
Coun. Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council.

A NEW system of local democracy, which promises to help communities “create their own futures”, will get under way next week.

The new Conservative administration at Northumberland County Council has issued a pledge to give town and parish councils a greater say in what happens in their local areas after implementing a restructure of committees.

The move, a major feature of the party’s election manifesto, includes the creation of five new local area councils for Northumberland – with the first meetings scheduled to take place next week.

Under the banners of North Northumberland, Ashington & Blyth, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale, and Cramlington & Bedlington, the new councils will meet bi-monthly to consider planning applications, road spending and petitions.

Leader Peter Jackson, says the introduction of the local area councils will allow people across the county to have a greater influence on the decisions that directly affect them and their communities.

“We want to work with communities to help them create their own futures, rather than impose large projects or developments on them,” he said.

“We want to be clear this is not a return to district councils, but about bridging the gap between an autocratic, centralised county council and communities.

“We value the work that town and parish councils are doing and wish to work closely with them, bridging the gap with a county council some see as distant and unengaging.”

He added that the move would save £250,000 over the next four years from reductions in councillors’ allowances.

In future, town and parish councils will also be among the stakeholders consulted with when highways improvement schemes, or Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) are being considered in their community to ensure that all parties are fully aware of the issues and the proposed work.

Chaired by Prudhoe’s Councillor Gordon Stewart, the first meeting of the Tynedale Local Area Council will take place at Hexham’s Wentworth Leisure Centre, on Tuesday (June 20), at 4pm.

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